Equity & Reward - 2020 Report Card Grades

Hello Eagle Families,

Writing this blog post is monumental…we can see the finish line! I want to give you some insight on how we’re wrapping up grades.

Our Eagle staff spent hours discussing our goals for assessment of student achievement during the Fourth Quarter of 2020. Creating a system that’s as effective for a kindergartner as a junior high student during apandemic is complicated. We took guidance from the Nebraska Department of Education and the Diocesan Education Office. We also studied various models and talked to many peers. Ultimately the decision was a “local” one: CRC chose from a menu of options to build a model that works best for our families. I call this model Equity & Reward. You’ll see at the conclusion of this email that we “listened” closely to you, our community, as we built it.

The Equity & Reward model is based on three criteria…

  1. Student Equity: Equity in education requires understanding the unique challenges and barriers faced by individual students or by populations of students and providing additional supports to help them overcome those barriers. While this in itself may not ensure equal outcomes, we must strive to ensure that every child has equal opportunity for success. It requires empathy, broad-strokes, and agility.
  2. Accountability: While we lost day-to-day contact with students, we did strive to maintain a level of accountability to student growth. A major reason you choose Catholic Education, and Cathedral in particular, is because of the high standards.
  3. Teacher Flexibility: Like our families, teachers also have different environments and factors to consider. We built systems on the fly that supported their good work in efficient and effective ways, while respecting their personal roles as parents, caretakers, etc.

When students receive report cards at Soar by the Nest on Tuesday & Wednesday, they will see that their Fourth Quarter Grade is the same or better than their Third Quarter Grade. Junior High teachers in particular will use the “Comment” section of the report card to report missing assignments and/or the student grade if we were going by our typical standards. These comments are for your information, and our documentation as we prepare for scenarios in the fall of 2020.

Let me circle back by applying our model to our guiding principles:

  1. Student Equity: Home Learning meant we were suddenly dealing with over 220 learning environments. Some folks have multiple devices, some have one. Some have a large family in an apartment, others a single child in a home. Some have parents on the front lines, others are able to work from home and/or rely on family support. Some spent time in quarantine, others did not. Basically, we tried to be sympathetic to all of those scenarios during an incredibly stressful time.
  2. Accountability: Despite 220 different learning environments and an historic pandemic, students need to be prepared for the future. So we took the responsibility to our standards seriously, but then raised the basement (nothing lower than Third Quarter) to account for equitability. Finally, the roof was “lifted” so students could raise their grade up to 100%.
  3. Teacher Flexibility: It’s amazing to think about, but our teachers built this entire thing on the fly! We all agreed that the focuses were the safety of our families, and then the growth of our students. We gave our educators great latitude in how they got it done, and they did not disappoint.

Now to your contributions: We have had amazing engagement (around 99%) since going into Home Learning. That doesn’t mean it was easy, but it does mean we were committed. As we gauged your commitment, we formed this system of “Equity & Reward”, determining it to be the best for our community. Be proud of what we accomplished this quarter!

Finally, if thrown into some version of Home Learning this fall I assure you it will look different. As proud as we are of this effort, we also learned many lessons that will make us even better educators: The learning platforms will be reduced; communication will be streamlined; access to technology will be amped up.

But enough of that for now. Let’s relax a bit and enjoy the present - Congratulations on a great finish to an extraordinary fourth quarter!

Blessed to be an Eagle,

Blog Post written by:
Jeremy Ekeler
Former Principal